Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cascadia 4's and the Last Chance Marathon

I just ran a 3:29 marathon in my new Cascadia 4's. I'm talking bran spanking new, right out a the box. They worked great. The tread is very aggressive and the shoe was plenty soft enough for the sidewalk, dirt road, and frozen snow and ice course. My pace was between 7:00 m/m and 8:30 m/m. I tried running flat footed and heal-toe, both felt comfortable.

I now have a cool reverse picture of the WS100 course on my socks!

I'll try them in the soft snow and mud this weekend on Tiger.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wet, heavy, cold, and windy.

The snow on Tiger is melting away quickly. But for now, it's still deep and slushy. The wind has knocked most all the snow down off the the trees but unfortunately it also blew 7 or 8 small trees down across the trail. I cleared a few but I didn't bring my trail saw so the bigger ones will have to wait.

This is the second bridge on the DA loop. It's passable and safe as long as you don't need to use the hand rails.

Luckily there were no big trees across the trail.

Shela had a good time playing in the snow.

Monday, December 22, 2008

2nd Annual Dumb Ass 50k

Not wanting to be responsible for 60 people up on the mountain in these snowy conditions the RD cancelled the Dumb Ass 50k this year, just to weed out those who have a shred of common sense. Somehow I didn't get the email, no really. Maybe he knew I'd run it anyway, maybe it was a joke on me, but there was no way I wasn't going to be up there running it. Even if I had to run it by myself. After contacting a few runners and the RD, I figured out what was going on. From the RD... "Think of the Cancellation Notice as part of the Qualification Process...", meaning you have to be a dumb ass to run this thing, and more so to run it after it's been canceled. How much dumber can you get? Running it after it's been canceled. I figured there would be about 6-7 hard core dumb ass runners. Turns out only 4 made it, included the RD.

So Sunday morning I bundled the kids up and left for Grandma's house a little before 6 through 4-5 inches of fresh snow, in the opposite direction of the race. There was nobody out on the roads and I made great time. Momentum was my friend in the front wheel drive van. I had plenty of time to get ready before the 8 am start. There were only 3 of us that started on time with a forth getting there late. It seemed warm at about 27 degrees and I'm guessing about 4" of snow at the trailhead.

It was easy going at first. There were even some tracks for me to follow. About 1/3 the way up I passed 2 runners that decided come out and run some, but not be part of the race. I didn't catch their names. After passing them my pace slowed a lot. Now I was breaking trail. It wasn't too bad, 4-6 then 8 inches in most places, until I got near the top then it was about a foot. Right before the top my watch beeped 3 miles. What the...? It's only 2 1/4 to the top. I guess I slid backwards .375 miles. At the summit of T3 the wind kept all the new snow blown into the woods. I would find out where that snow went in just a few minutes. There at the top I paused for a minute to enjoy the clear view and let the wind cool me off. It seems that no matter how cold I am at the bottom, I'm always sweating by the time I get to the top.

Half way to T2 I took the left onto the TMT trail and about 3/4 the way across I hit my first snow drift. Ahh the missing snow. The first couple weren't too bad maybe up to my knees then there was one right before the turn to go down toward K3 on a little uphill section that was much deeper. I trudged through that one and turned downhill. Now the trail was nearly bare of snow (for 20 meters), then the big drifts starting showing up. There were a few that were 30-36" deep but I was going downhill so I had gravity helping me out. I just had to keep high stepping through them. I veered off trail a little a few times and blew through one turn because I had snow in my eyes but for the most part I stayed out of the bushes. If I hadn't run this loop 20 odd times in the past 2 years there's no way I could have found my way. After about 2 miles the snow thinned out be ~6" (I never stopped to measure it) and it seemed like I could actually run faster than if the snow wasn't there. I didn't have to worry about rocks or roots, just turning my legs over as fast as I could and making that next turn. Sure I fell a few times but it's snow, falling is part of the fun. I got down to the trailhead reloaded my my bottle and then logged my time on the sign in sheet. 1:37 and my watch had the ~6 mile loop at 7.51 miles. Ouch, I gave about a 1:20 effort. I'm thinking the 2nd loop will be easier.

The 2nd loop seemed easier going up. It was basically like doing stairs for 2 miles. My brooks ASR5's did good on the compact snow footholds. So I'm thinking this loop should be a little faster. Once I hit the snow drifts that thought went away quickly. On the first time down it was more like a controlled (and not so controlled at times) free fall. This time I had to work harder. I had to decide to either place my feet in the huge deep holes that were there, or to go with a completely new line. Either way it was slower and more work. I did a little of both. My second loop with a little less effort on the way up but a lot more on the way down was about 1:44.

The third and forth loops were more of the same. Snow stairs up, high stepping down. Each a little slower than the last.

On the fifth loop right after I started climbing 2 guys came shuffling down the mountain. I think cool, I'd much rather be going down that up. Unfortunately they blew through all the footholds. So now I had to really dig in with my feet and go up on all fours when it got steep. I really wanted to keep all my loops under 2 hours so I pushed hard. Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of Scott's footprints. There was less and less snow on them so I figured I must be getting close to lapping him. Sure enough, I caught him right after the twin bridges near the bottom. I assumed he wasn't going to head out for his 5th lap, but I didn't ask. He ended up finishing his marathon about 4-5 minutes behind me. Luckily I remembered to bring a headlamp because the 3 miles were in the dark. Michael had already stopped at 4 loops and was waiting down by the gate to make sure we didn't get locked in.

Things I learned.
1. I am dumb enough.
2. Screw shoes are still my traction choice.
3. Even if you ran slower than you've ever run before you can still take first place. Just be dumber than everyone else.
4. Sure I loved snow when I was a kid but now even with all the hassles that come with it, I still love the snow.
5. And the biggest surprise, there aren't as many dumb asses out there as I thought.

My final time, 9:12 of playing in the snow! That's more than twice as long as it took me to run my last 50k.

Results here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It'll be a cold day in ...

Oh my god, it was cold in Spokane this weekend. At the start of the race it was just above ZERO with the wind chill.

Two of my fellow Brooks team mates and I headed out of town after lunch on Friday, the pass wasn't too bad but there were over a dozen people in the ditch and when we passed Easton the WSP or DOT had just closed I-90 West bound for about two hours so they could clear the carnage of cars that were strewn everywhere without the fear of getting slid into themselves.

We made it through with no problems thanks to the little black Kia and an expert ex-Zamboni driving Canadian. After getting all settled in four of us, Dan the speedy professor, Clark the class clown from the islands, Gordon the designated driver and myself went out for a big pre-race meal at the Outback. Afterwards we hung out in the upgraded suite that I negotiated at our hotel.

The race didn't start until 11:30 so we had lots of time to kill Saturday Morning eating french toast and waffles in the lobby of our Hotel and telling stories and jokes and telling all the other teams how great Brooks is. When we got to race we all went out for a mile or so jog to warm up. I worked up a good sweat with my two coats, sweatpants, hat, and gloves, but my feet were frozen. Since this was just a 10k sprint I had to figure out what would feel right for the whole race. I think I needed just a little more because I was cold the entire race. Ultras are so much easier, you can shed your clothes when you get warm and put them back on if you feel the need.

After checking in with Steve, our fearless leader from Brooks, I pinned on my FOUR race numbers and Two timing chips, then after waiting forever, stripped down and headed out to the start. We started a couple minutes late and I was pretty much numb from the waist down by then because I never wear anything on my legs when I run. I might have to re-think that one next year.

I feel like I ran hard the whole way with about a 6:00 to a 6:30 m/m effort. I slowed from mile 3.5 to 4.5 but really started to kick it into gear after that. I passed 20-30 runners (mostly guys with a 60 on their back) in the last 2 miles.
My mile splits for the 2 3/4 laps were 6:34, 7:06, 7:10, 7:05, 7:06, 6:59, and then a 1:42 for the .27 miles at the end for a time of 43:43 that's a whole 53 seconds faster than my 10k split during my last marathon. At the end I bent over to take off the TWO timing chips they had us wear (one on each foot) and saw that my calf had been sliced open. Funny I never felt that happen. I guess I got spiked, but I didn't.

The ice from my opposite shoe had sliced through the skin. My right shoe was covered in red ice and snow. I never felt a thing. Chalk one up for being numb! It did hurt later though. I had time to shower and bundle up before the start of the Open race. It felt colder at the 1:30 start. To stay warm I had to run from one side of the course to the other cheering them on and taking pictures as they passed.

It was a fun trip, next time I'll be more ready for the cold.

Next up the DumbAss 50k with about 15,000 feet of climbing over 5 loops.